Citation from State Assembly and Bell-ringing Bring Closure to 2014-15 School Year
Just before dismissal on the last day of school, Swallow students and staff celebrated the 2014-15 school year by receiving a Citation from the State Assembly and having retiring staff ring the district's bell to signify the end of the school year. State Representative Chris Kapenga presented a citation for 170 years of excellence as a school community and in recognition of the district's designation by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction as a High Achieving High Progress School based on overall school performance measures. Immediately following this presentation, the tradition of having retiring staff ring the district's bell took place to bring closure to the school year. Enjoy these special events here!
School Board Approves Recommendations as Result of Curriculum and Programmatic Review
Over the past two months, the school board has approved both the continuation of the Spanish program in all grades K-8, as well as the program's vision, mission, goals, and an implementation timeline for revisions to an evidence-based instructional delivery model. Additionally, the board approved the leveling of Spanish in grades 5-8 to allow programming to better meet the needs of students new to Swallow so that they can be more appropriately placed based on their prior experience in learning Spanish.
During the 2014-15 school year the Spanish Curriculum and Programming was reviewed by school staff with the support of regional and national experts in the field of world language instruction. Based on student performance data, feedback from student, parent, and staff focus groups, site visits to other local school districts, and research on best practices in world language instruction, approved recommendations included the continuation of the program at all grade levels, the leveling to accommodate those new to Swallow, and a re-commitment to the FLES model of instructional delivery which is rooted in thematic units based on grade level core content curriculum and considered best practice in the field. To guide and support this work, the department also created vision and mission statements as well as goals and an implementation timeline to help communicate these changes to students, other staff, parents, and the school board.
Professional development and final re-design of the curriculum and learning targets to align to the leveling concept and FLES model will continue throughout the summer months. More information will be shared at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year at both the district and classroom levels so that all stakeholders know what the Spanish program at Swallow will look like and how it will prepare students moving forward.
School Board Approves Changes to Reading/Language Arts Program Based on Review Process
During the 2014-15 school year the Reading and Language Arts Curriculum and Programming was reviewed by school staff with the support of a local expert in the field. Based on student performance data, feedback from student, parent, and staff focus groups, site visits to other local school districts, and research on best practices in the five areas of the district’s literacy programming (reading, writing/grammar, typing, handwriting, and spelling/vocabulary development), recommendations in each of these five areas were brought to the school board for consideration in April. In May, the board approved the following recommendations and associated implementation timeline.
Professional development around these shifts in programming and practice began in May. More information will be shared at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year at both the district level and classroom level so that you know what to expect in this important curricular area moving forward.
SOAR Program Exceeding Implementation Expectations
The 2014-15 school year marked the full implementation of the SOAR program, a 30 minute block of time within the school day designated for intervention and extension work for students by grade level. Decisions about work for students during this time are based on data and teacher recommendation, with input from students based on their learning goals and progress towards proficiency on learning targets.
End of the year student performance data shows that students in need of interventions have significantly decreased. Through the utilization of a comprehensive Response To Intervention (RTI) model within SOAR, students requiring intervention decreased by 88%. In the area of mathematics, 90% of students in grades 3-8 were assessed at the advanced and proficient levels at the end of the year and in the area of reading 94% of students in grades 3-8 were assessed at advanced and proficient levels. The SOAR/RTI process also had a direct benefit for 8th grade students who are matriculating to high school in the fall as their scores on the ACT Aspire assessment indicated the following percentage of students were college and career ready in each subject area: 92% in English, 94% in Math, 86% in Science, and 82% in Reading.
Through the Curriculum and Review process during the 2014-15 school year, it was determined that an area of future focus is in the development of even more extension curriculum which students can access during SOAR time. School staff will be working on this over the summer months in preparation for next year while also considering additional ways to increase existing student self-directed goal-setting strategies, enhance parent communication, and restructure the Targeted Study period in middle school.
Swallow Eighth Graders Visit Washington, D.C.
Students of Swallow's eighth grade class along with parents and staff will visit Washington, D.C. in the coming week. Visit the group's blog to learn more and see pictures from their activities throughout the trip: https://swallowschool.wordpress.com/
New Engineering Programming and Discovery Spaces Coming to Swallow for the 2015-16 School Year
Swallow School is pleased to announce that at the April School Board meeting, expenditures up to $65,000 to renovate existing spaces to create a Discovery Lab and adjacent Discovery Center were approved. This marks the first of three phases of implementation of new programming and transformation of space as staff seek to provide more programming in science and engineering courses while creating more hands-on flexible learning spaces that provide students across all grade levels and subject areas a chance to problem-solve, collaborate, discover, create, and learn in new ways. The district is seeking community support and sponsorships to help implement phases II and III of these plans, and an official kick-off towards this effort happened at the Swallow Education Foundation’s Casino Night April 25, 2015. (Read More)